How many times have you heard or maybe even said “its my house, the HOA can’t tell ME what I can do!!” The long and the short of it is, if you live in a neighborhood with Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, By-laws and other Governing Documents then yes, they can. When you purchased your home in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association, you should have been provided these documents. With all of the paperwork involved in the purchase of a home, its easily over looked but VERY IMPORTANT!! Its always a good idea to know what you are subject to as a homeowner in an Association. Some of the more common restrictions you will see are No RV parking, No exterior changes to your home without written approval, weeds and tree debris need to be maintained, garbage cans need to be stowed away out of sight after trash pick up and parking violations just to name a few. Take a moment to read through your documents if you are unfamiliar with them. A lot of your Associations will have a website or contact information if you need a new copy or have questions about your neighborhood.
Another popular misconception is that as Association Management Company makes all the decisions and imposes them on the homeowners. In actuality, A Management Company works at the direction of the Board of Directors to follow and enforce the Governing Documents of the community. The Board of Directors is made up of a group of homeowner volunteers, who are elected by the homeowners to represent the homeowners. As part of his/or her duties, The Community Manager will perform site tours, walking or driving the community to ensure everyone is in compliance with the Governing Documents. Sometimes a member of the Board of Directors will accompany them on their site tour. When there is a violation, the Manager will send a letter asking for it to be corrected, with a time period in which to come into compliance. On subsequent tours, if the violation is not corrected more letters and possibly a fine will follow. This will vary per community based on what is set forth in the actual Governing Documents.
In addition to the Governing Documents, a Homeowners Association or Condominium Owners Association is also governed by state statute, copies of which are attached. If you as a homeowner are concerned about how your Association is run, attend a regular Board Meeting, Join a Committee or express interest in being on the ballot for your Board of Directors. To enact a change you need to be part of the process. More involvement from the neighborhood will provide a more diverse and larger representation of the community as a whole. It stands to reason that the voices of many represent a larger segment of a neighborhood than the voices of a few.
Next time you get that weed letter or parking violation instead of calling a Board Member or Community Manager to yell or complain, take care of the issue and let them know that its done. They did not draft the Governing Documents but are tasked with enforcing them. If you have a dispute or complaint about your Association those are being handled by the Arizona Department of Real Estate. The link: http://www.azre.gov/HOA/HOA.aspx/